Posts Tagged ‘organic gardening’

Eco-dining at its Best: Primo

The following blog post comes from our very good friends over at Green Living Project (GLP), a non-profit organization that films sustainable programs across the world for inspirational and educational purposes.  In GLP’s two-year history, the organization has documented over thirty diverse projects in ten countries across Latin America and Africa.  This past August, Adrienne Rosenberg joined Green Living Project’s first domestic trip, which showcased a myriad of inspiring sustainable initiatives across the state of Maine .

As I sat on the back steps of the renovated Victorian house, a line cook caught my eye as he hopped over the salvia and lunged around the basil to snip a few sprigs of mint. At any other restaurant, if you are out of an ingredient, you are out of luck- but not Primo. Primo restaurant , co-owned by Chef Melissa Kelly and Pastry Chef Price Kushner, strives to pleasantly blend the ideals of sustainability with palate-savoring pleasures.

Like many students desperate for a quick financial fix, I have made my circulations in restaurants across the nation, often experiencing the same harrowing episodes: a chef with a large ego, quick hands to dump “waste” from plates, customers oblivious to the substandard food cultivation, piles of the same-ole, imported Sysco ingredients, and a sort of impassive, nightly performance by the wait staff. But at Primo, diners receive an unparallel experience of local, organic Portland fare.

The cuisine brilliance begins and ends on the four-acre garden. Unlike other restaurants, Primo’s gardeners decide each morning what seasonal produce is ripe for the evening’s delights. Pulsing with life, the garden also provides chickens, herbs, grapes, edible flowers, honey, and even hops. True to their commitment to local ingredients, Primo also purchases its seafood from Portland fishermen. By the end of the night, the pigs feast on the ensuing compost of uneaten food or organic waste from the kitchen.

Primo’s garden provides much of the bounty that ends up in its dining room

In addition, Primo invites guests to explore the garden so they may come into contact with the elements that will later arrive at their table. As Melissa remarked, so often chefs will put their ego on a plate. Her philosophy, however, is to fashion her dishes so they teach others about where food comes from and how it is grown.

Inside the kitchen, Primo hosts several line cook stations, a pastry prep area, expo tables, a wood fired oven, and a downstairs prep room complete with storage and a batch of brewing beer. The chalkboard-painted door at the top of the stairs lists the specials for the night as well as displays a flyer on “How to Become Green”.

Primo’s décor pleasantly complements the organic, robust flavors of each dish. Downstairs exhibits rustic merlot colored walls and a traditional dining set up along with several art pieces while upstairs has a contrasting chicness with wrap-around couches, rectangular shaped designs, and a copper bar. Primo also seamlessly excels at energy efficiency and water conservation through their use of Maine produced biofuel as well as dual flush and waterless urinals.

After a long afternoon of dodging the staff while filming the high action atmosphere of the kitchen, Green Living Project was able to relax to fork fulls of scrumptious fresh cuisine, such as the house special baked oysters and the black spaghetti with braised cuttlefish and heirloom tomatoes, knowing that a majority of the ingredients were sustainably harvested only yards away from our table.

Adrienne Rosenberg
Green Living Project

Just Another Manic Monday

Oh, to be a Timberland Earthkeeper.  Our morning schedule today looked something like this:

1. Host Victory Garden “Open House” to share insight and expertise with local area businesses wanting to start their own corporate lawn gardens.

2.  Harvest and weigh (using super-sophisticated methods) whatever looks ripe for the picking (today’s bounty included herbs, flowers, zucchini, cabbage, green peppers and one odd-looking summer squash).

3.  Haul the fresh produce into our lobby where eager employees gladly exchange donations to the NH Food Bank for a bagful of the best veggies around.

Not a bad way to start the work week.  Our thanks to Ann Caron and her Victory Garden committee for allowing us to videotape them Earthkeeping in action.

(And, just to show you that our volunteer gardeners aren’t the only ones working hard today, the end of the video features some of the crew and equipment working to install our new energy-efficient white roof!)

Those of you who couldn’t make the trip to NH for today’s open house, never fear — we’re always happy to talk to anyone interested in our Victory Garden (or help you figure out how to start your own).  Just let us know the best way to reach you and we’ll be in touch.

Victory Tastes Better When Shared

“We were a busy working family, and I would find it difficult to feed my family in a healthy way, quickly.  So I decided to change our diet … with simple things.  I started adding more fruits and vegetables, trying to sit down and prepare a meal as a family a couple times a week and eating out a little bit less.  Trying to eliminate processed and sugary foods as much as possible.  And I saw some really immediate results with just those minor changes.”

Could be the sentiments of just about any Earthkeeping mother among us, right?  Struggling to balance quick-and-easy with good-for-you food choices.  In fact, it’s First Lady Michelle Obama, discussing the genesis of her victory garden – the topic of a newly-released White House video:

The First Lady’s remarks are probably familiar to every mom among us — the desire to eat healthier and teach our children first hand about good eating habits.  Unfortunately, fresh fruits and vegetables aren’t a readily-available option for some — including those families who rely on local food banks and community meal programs.

All the more reason for us to build on the new/old victory garden “trend” where we can — in backyards and corporate office parks and yes, even on the White House lawn — to provide not only for our own families, but to help feed others who share our desire and need for healthier food.

Front-Lawn Food

Most kids are relishing these last few weeks of summer, not quite ready to get back into the grind of the school year … but for some, returning to school will be a welcome relief. 

Many children who have access to a federally-funded free lunch program during the school year don’t have the same support during school breaks – leaving them without adequate, nutritious food.  Summer meal programs, offered by many schools and communities, help to bridge the gap – but they’re not universally available, and most programs don’t have the funding or resources right now to grow.

All the more reason to support local food banks that work to get critically-needed food items and services to the families who need them.  The wet, hot weather we’ve enjoyed here in New Hampshire has done wonders for our front-lawn Victory Garden, producing nearly 250 pounds of fresh herbs, flowers and vegetables so far this summer … which, when purchased by the Timberland community at our in-house “farm stand” translates into more than $600 for the NH Food Bank – enough money to buy 2,436 meals for people living with hunger in our state.

We think the Timberland tomatoes are to die for … but not nearly as satisfying as knowing our home-grown bounty is also helping to feed others in our community.  Back to the harvesting …

No More Mowing – Veggies Growing!

Timberland Victory Garden, Stratham, NH

First Lady Michelle Obama isn’t the only one replacing green lawns with gardens … at Timberland’s New Hampshire headquarters, we’re into year two of our “Victory Garden” — raised beds growing everything from carrots and tomatoes to swiss chard and beets.  The garden was created last summer on open lawn in front of our building, and gained quick popularity among employees who purchase the freshly grown and picked goods all summer long (Victory Garden proceeds are donated to a local food bank).